13 killed in South Waziristan attacks
* 4 soldiers among dead
* Huge arms cache seized
* Jirga signs deal with govt
By Iqbal Khattak and Mujeebur Rehman
PESHAWAR/WANA: Four troops were killed in a rocket attack on the Wana Scouts camp and in an ambush on a military convoy in South Waziristan on Tuesday.
Officials and witnesses said militants fired two rockets at the Scouts camp at 1:00pm, killing a Frontier Constabulary soldier and injuring there paramilitaries. A 12-year-boy was also killed. Sources said he was the son of a sweeper. Witnesses said rockets were fired from the Pirbagh area in the south of Wana.
Military spokesman Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan confirmed there were some casualties in the attack on the Scouts camp housing top administration officials and military commanders and soldiers. It was the second such attack on the camp within the space of a month during which militants chose broad daylight to target the camp. A convoy of 60 military vehicles was ambushed on the Jandola-Wana highway near Maulay Khan Sarai in Sarwakai sub-division, sources said. Maj Gen Sultan admitted a few soldiers were injured in the ambush but would not say how many troops were killed. Sources, however, put the number at three, while the number of troops injured was not accounted for. Sources could only say a few soldiers were injured, including a captain.
“The militants used heavy weapons in the ambush. The military convoy was also getting air cover,” a Sarwakai resident told Daily Times. “The Army returned fire but the attackers escaped unhurt,” he added.
Sources in Wana said that a group of Taliban militants held a meeting at Maulay Khan Sarai and decided to block the Jandola-Wana highway. They said the ambush was a result of that strategic decision. Security forces and militants were exchanging heavy fire, sources added. In Sarwakai, militants ambushed a military convoy in March this year, killing a few soldiers and taking eight others hostage.
Maj Gen Sultan said the security forces had cordoned off the area and they were in search of terrorists.
Meanwhile, paramilitary forces targeted militants’ suspected hideouts in the Dog area with mortar guns for about an hour. Some mortar shells hit the house of tribesmen Alam Khan and Pirdal Khan. Two mortar shells hit Darwaish Public School in the Kari Kot area, injuring two students. In the Makeen area, militants opened fire at security forces when they were trying to search the house of Maulana Shafique. A tribal elder said militants were reportedly hiding in the house and opened fire at the troops as they came near. An unaccounted number of troops died in the incident, unconfirmed reports said.
In Peshawar, a 200-member Wazir jirga from Khoji Khel, Toji Khel, Kaka Khel and Sarki Khel tribes signed a Shakai-like agreement with the government to join the government’s fight against terrorists in Waziristan.
Addressing the jirga, NWFP Governor Lt Gen (r) Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah said there would be no let up in the fight against terrorists. The governor assured the tribesmen that the ongoing military operation in Waziristan aimed to hunt foreign terrorists and their supporters. He said the government was not against innocent tribesmen. The jirga was held late on Monday.
Agencies add: At least eight people were killed on Tuesday as Pakistani security forces clashed with militants believed linked to Al Qaeda in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan, local officials said.
“The dead included five militants,” an administration official said requesting anonymity.
The exchange of fire erupted after militants perched on surrounding hills attacked soldiers in the Makeen area, 60 kilometres north of Wana, he said. But tribesmen claimed that four civilians were killed in the Makeen area. Imran Khan Shabikhel said his relatives came under fire on Monday afternoon while trying to flee the troubled area.
Shabikhel said four of his relatives were killed and about 15 people were wounded in the Monday afternoon incident. Security forces have found a huge arms cache in Shakai, according to an Inter Services Public Relations press releases on Tuesday. It said security forces raided the house of Eda Khan on a tip-off and seized explosives, a laptop and other equipment.
Meanwhile, Major Gen Sultan has denied a BBC report that security forces had bombed a seminary in Makeen, saying the report was baseless and biased. He said paramilitary forces targeted a house where militants were hiding.